Carmine is used in a tremendous number of processed foodstuffs, including Tropicana Season's Best Ruby Red Grapefruit and Dannon strawberry yogurt, as well as a wide number of cosmetic products.

It is made from the eggs and body of the cochineal beetle.

In many countries, including throughout the United Kingdom, carmine is listed as cochineal on labels. In the United States, it is either called "carmine," the name of the refined product, or not listed at all. This causes a number of problems for people. For example, vegetarians and vegans eating foods with "natural colors" or "natural flavors" often find that they have been eating beetle-flavored popsicles for years.

In other cases, people have had allergic reactions to the ingredient. Many do not know what carmine is or know that it can cause allergic reactions, so they continue to be exposed to it via their snacks or lipstick. The Center for Science in the Public Interest notes that carmine has "caused allergic reactions that range from hives to life-threatening anaphylactic shock. It is not known how many people suffer from this allergy." They urge allergists who have (or have had) patients who are allergic to carmine or cochineal extract to call their Carmine Allergy Clearinghouse at 1-888-653-7872.

Meanwhile, remember: just because it's natural doesn't mean you wanna put it in your mouth.

Car"mine (?), n. [F. carmin (cf. Sp. carmin, It. carminio), contr. from LL. carmesinus purple color. See Crimson.]


A rich red or crimson color with a shade of purple.


A beautiful pigment, or a lake, of this color, prepared from cochineal, and used in miniature painting.

3. Chem.

The essential coloring principle of cochineal, extracted as a purple-red amorphous mass. It is a glucoside and possesses acid properties; -- hence called also carminic acid.

Carmine red Chem., a coloring matter obtained from carmine as a purple-red substance, and probably allied to the phthaleins.


© Webster 1913.

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